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Salt Lake City Is Cooler Than You Think


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Carrissa Mcknight



Welcome to Salt Lake City, the vibrant capital of Utah and a hidden gem in the heart of the American West. Nestled between the Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake, this city is often overlooked as a travel destination. However, Salt Lake City is much cooler than you might think, offering a diverse range of attractions and activities that cater to all interests and preferences.


Known for its stunning natural beauty, Salt Lake City is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. With numerous national parks, scenic hiking trails, and world-class ski resorts just a short drive away, adventure awaits at every turn. From hiking in the majestic Bryce Canyon National Park to skiing down the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort, there is no shortage of outdoor recreational opportunities to explore.


Beyond its outdoor offerings, Salt Lake City boasts a rich cultural scene that rivals that of larger cities. The city is home to renowned museums and art galleries, showcasing everything from contemporary art to ancient artifacts. The historic Temple Square, with its iconic Salt Lake Temple and beautifully landscaped gardens, is a must-visit for religious and architectural enthusiasts.


When it comes to dining, Salt Lake City does not disappoint. The city is a melting pot of diverse cuisines, with an array of restaurants, food trucks, and farmers markets offering a wide selection of gastronomic delights. From farm-to-table eateries to international fusion cuisine, there is something to satisfy every palate.


Shopaholics will find their paradise in Salt Lake City as well. The city is home to an eclectic mix of boutiques, specialty stores, and outdoor shopping centers, offering a unique blend of local craftsmanship and big-name brands. Whether you’re looking for stylish fashion pieces, handcrafted jewelry, or one-of-a-kind souvenirs, Salt Lake City has it all.


The nightlife scene in Salt Lake City may surprise you. From trendy rooftop bars to cozy pubs and live music venues, the city comes alive after dark with a variety of entertainment options. Whether you want to relax with a craft cocktail or dance the night away, there is a venue to suit every mood.


Outdoor Recreation

Salt Lake City offers an abundance of outdoor recreational activities that allow visitors to fully embrace the beauty of the surrounding natural landscape. With the Wasatch Mountains as its backdrop and the Great Salt Lake just a short drive away, adventure awaits at every turn.


Hiking enthusiasts will be delighted by the countless trails that crisscross the region. Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll or a challenging ascent, there are options for all skill levels. The picturesque Big Cottonwood Canyon is a popular choice, with its scenic trails leading to stunning vistas and sparkling waterfalls.


For those seeking a thrill, Salt Lake City is a gateway to world-class skiing and snowboarding. The nearby ski resorts, such as Park City Mountain Resort and Snowbird, offer pristine slopes and powder-filled bowls that attract skiers from around the world. In the summertime, these resorts transform into havens for mountain biking, zip-lining, and scenic chairlift rides.


Water enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities to cool off and have fun. The Great Salt Lake, with its buoyant waters, is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. Additionally, the region is dotted with picturesque reservoirs and rivers where visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, and paddleboarding.


Nature lovers can explore the iconic national parks in the area, such as Zion National Park and Arches National Park. These breathtaking landscapes offer a chance to marvel at towering sandstone arches, hike through narrow canyons, and witness stunning sunsets over red-rock vistas.


If you prefer a more leisurely outdoor experience, Salt Lake City has a number of well-maintained parks and gardens. Liberty Park, the city’s largest public park, offers sprawling green spaces, picnic areas, and sports courts. Red Butte Garden and Arboretum showcases a stunning collection of native and exotic plants, as well as scenic hiking trails.


With its close proximity to nature and an array of outdoor recreational opportunities, Salt Lake City caters to both adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. Whether you want to embark on an adrenaline-pumping adventure or simply bask in the serenity of the great outdoors, Salt Lake City has it all.


Cultural Attractions

Salt Lake City is a hub of cultural attractions that offer visitors a glimpse into the city’s rich history and diverse artistic heritage. From museums and monuments to performing arts venues, there is no shortage of cultural experiences to be had.


One of the most iconic landmarks in Salt Lake City is Temple Square. Home to the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Temple Square attracts millions of visitors each year. Explore the stunning Salt Lake Temple, take a guided tour of the Tabernacle, or visit the various museums and visitor centers to learn about the history and beliefs of the Mormon pioneers.


For art enthusiasts, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts is a must-visit. This world-class museum features a wide range of artwork from different time periods and cultures. From ancient Egyptian artifacts to contemporary masterpieces, the collection is both diverse and awe-inspiring. The museum also hosts rotating exhibitions and engaging educational programs for visitors of all ages.


If you’re interested in history, make sure to visit the Utah State Capitol. This architectural marvel offers guided tours that take you through the history and inner workings of the state government. The building itself is a sight to behold, with its neoclassical design and breathtaking views of the city.


Another cultural gem in Salt Lake City is the Natural History Museum of Utah. Situated at the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, this museum showcases the natural wonders that Utah has to offer. Explore exhibits on dinosaurs, native flora and fauna, and the geology of the region. The museum also features interactive displays and educational programs that make learning about science fun for visitors of all ages.


When it comes to performing arts, Salt Lake City has a vibrant scene. The Utah Symphony and Utah Opera perform at the beautiful Abravanel Hall and the stunning Capitol Theatre, offering world-class classical music and opera performances. Additionally, the Eccles Theater hosts a variety of Broadway shows, concerts, and other live performances throughout the year.


Cultural festivals and events are also a highlight of Salt Lake City. The Utah Arts Festival, held annually in June, showcases local artists, musicians, and dancers. The Days of ’47 Parade and Rodeo, held in July, celebrates the city’s pioneering history with colorful floats and exciting rodeo events. These events provide an opportunity to experience the local culture and connect with the community.


From historical landmarks to world-class museums and vibrant performing arts venues, Salt Lake City is a cultural treasure trove. Immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant arts scene and rich heritage, and you’ll discover a deeper appreciation for the cultural diversity and artistic expressions that define Salt Lake City.


Food and Dining

Salt Lake City is a haven for food lovers, offering a diverse culinary scene that caters to all tastes and preferences. From farm-to-table eateries to international cuisine, the city is a melting pot of flavors and dining experiences.


If you’re a fan of farm-fresh ingredients and locally sourced food, you’re in for a treat. Salt Lake City boasts a thriving farm-to-table movement, with many restaurants emphasizing sustainable practices and seasonal menus. These establishments, such as Pago and Forage, pride themselves on their commitment to using locally grown produce and supporting local farmers.


The city’s dining scene also reflects its multicultural influences. From Thai and Mexican to Italian and Indian, you can find a wide range of international cuisines in Salt Lake City. The Red Iguana, known for its authentic Mexican cuisine, has been a local favorite for decades. The Copper Onion offers a contemporary twist on American comfort food, while Ekamai Thai Cuisine serves up traditional Thai dishes bursting with flavors.


If you’re looking to indulge in some fine dining, Salt Lake City has several upscale restaurants that will satisfy your cravings. The French-inspired cuisine at La Caille is a feast for the senses, with its elegant ambiance and exquisite dishes. Log Haven, nestled in the Wasatch National Forest, offers a unique blend of fine dining and rustic charm, with a menu highlighting locally sourced ingredients.


For those seeking a more casual dining experience, the city is filled with charming cafes, gastropubs, and food trucks. The Rose Establishment is a popular spot for brunch, offering artisanal coffee and a seasonal menu featuring locally sourced ingredients. Beer lovers can rejoice at the numerous craft breweries scattered throughout the city, such as Squatters Craft Beers and Epic Brewing Company.


Don’t forget to save room for dessert! Salt Lake City has a thriving dessert scene, with bakeries and dessert shops that will satisfy your sweet tooth. From homemade gelato at Dolcetti Gelato to decadent pastries at Gourmandise The Bakery, there’s no shortage of sugary delights to indulge in.


Additionally, Salt Lake City is home to several farmers markets and food festivals that celebrate local flavors and culinary traditions. The Downtown Farmers Market, held every Saturday during the summer months, offers a wide selection of fresh produce, artisanal products, and delicious food vendors.


In Salt Lake City, you’ll never run out of dining options. Whether you’re looking for a casual bite, an upscale gastronomic experience, or a taste of international cuisine, the city’s culinary scene has something to satisfy every palate.



Salt Lake City offers a diverse shopping scene, catering to both locals and visitors looking for unique and high-quality products. From boutique shops and local craftsmanship to well-known brands and outdoor shopping centers, the city has it all.


If you’re in search of unique, one-of-a-kind finds, Salt Lake City is home to a plethora of independent boutiques and specialty stores. In the hip and vibrant neighborhoods of Downtown Salt Lake and Sugar House, you’ll find quaint shops offering handmade jewelry, vintage clothing, and quirky home decor. Check out stores like Iconoclad and The Stockist to discover hidden gems you won’t find anywhere else.


The city also has a strong focus on local craftsmanship. Salt Lake City is a hub for artists and artisans, and you’ll find their creations showcased in various galleries and stores. The Utah Artists Hands and the Craftsman Collective are two places where you can browse and purchase locally made art, ceramics, jewelry, and more.


If you prefer a more traditional shopping experience with a mix of major brands, head to City Creek Center. This upscale shopping center features a blend of renowned national retailers and local boutiques. With its stunning architecture, outdoor walkways, and a retractable roof, City Creek Center offers a unique and enjoyable shopping environment.


Salt Lake City is also known for its outdoor shopping centers, which take advantage of the region’s natural beauty and mild climate. Trolley Square, situated in a beautifully converted historic trolley car depot, offers a mix of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Additionally, The Gateway boasts a modern open-air design and features a range of retailers, including fashion outlets and specialty stores.


For those looking for a great deal, the Salt Lake City area is home to several outlet malls. The Outlets at Traverse Mountain and the Outlets at Park City offer a wide selection of discounted designer brands, making it the perfect destination for fashion enthusiasts on a budget.


No shopping experience in Salt Lake City would be complete without a visit to the local farmers markets. These vibrant markets, such as the Downtown Farmers Market and the Park Silly Sunday Market, offer an array of fresh produce, artisanal products, and unique crafts. They are the perfect place to support local growers, artisans, and small businesses.


Whether you’re looking for trendy boutiques, local craftsmanship, upscale shopping centers, or bargain deals, Salt Lake City has something to offer every shopper. Explore the city’s diverse shopping scene and bring home a piece of the local culture and style.



When the sun sets, Salt Lake City comes alive with a lively and dynamic nightlife scene. From trendy bars and speakeasies to live music venues and dance clubs, the city offers a wide range of options for those looking to have a memorable night out.


If you’re a fan of craft cocktails and stylish ambiance, Salt Lake City has plenty of upscale bars to choose from. The Copper Common, a chic and modern cocktail bar, is known for its expertly crafted drinks and innovative menu. Beer lovers will enjoy the extensive selection of local and international brews at Beer Bar or the rustic vibes of Fisher Brewing Company.


For a more unique and exclusive experience, Salt Lake City is home to a number of hidden speakeasies. These underground bars provide a sense of mystery and intrigue, with secret entrances and expertly crafted cocktails. The Rest is a popular speakeasy located beneath the Bodega Market, offering an intimate and elegant atmosphere.


If you’re looking for live performances and music, Salt Lake City has a vibrant music scene. The Depot is a historic music venue that hosts a variety of concerts from local acts to big-name artists. The Urban Lounge is an intimate and eclectic music venue that showcases a diverse range of genres, from indie rock to electronic music.


For those who enjoy a night of dancing and partying, Salt Lake City has several clubs and dance halls. Sky SLC is a premier nightclub that features top DJs and a state-of-the-art sound system. The Metro Music Hall, with its spacious dance floor and energetic vibe, offers a mix of live music and late-night DJs.


If you prefer a more laid-back evening, Salt Lake City has options for that too. Breweries like Bar-X and Kiitos Brewing offer a casual and relaxed atmosphere, perfect for catching up with friends over a pint. Salt Lake City also has a number of rooftop bars, such as The Green Pig Pub and Lake Effect, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city while sipping on your favorite drink.


It’s worth noting that Salt Lake City has unique liquor laws due to its historical roots, including limited drink strength and strict regulations. However, this hasn’t hindered the city from cultivating a vibrant and exciting nightlife scene.


From swanky bars and speakeasies to lively music venues and dance clubs, Salt Lake City has a diverse and entertaining nightlife that caters to all tastes and preferences. So, put on your dancing shoes or sit back with a craft cocktail, and get ready to experience the energetic and vibrant nightlife of Salt Lake City.


Art and Music Scene

Salt Lake City boasts a thriving art and music scene that showcases the city’s creative spirit and cultural diversity. With a wide range of galleries, theaters, and music venues, there is no shortage of opportunities to immerse yourself in the vibrant arts community of Salt Lake City.


The city is home to numerous art galleries that showcase a variety of artistic styles and mediums. The Utah Museum of Fine Arts, located on the University of Utah campus, houses an impressive collection of artwork spanning thousands of years. From ancient artifacts to contemporary masterpieces, the museum offers a rich and immersive art experience for visitors.


For contemporary and modern art, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) is a must-visit. This dynamic museum features exhibits that explore social and cultural issues through the lens of contemporary art. With rotating exhibits and innovative installations, UMOCA provides a platform for local and international artists to express their creativity and push boundaries.


In addition to traditional art galleries, Salt Lake City has a vibrant street art scene. The city is adorned with colorful murals and public art installations, transforming ordinary walls and buildings into captivating works of art. The Granary District and Trolley Square are two areas known for their vibrant street art, where you can explore and appreciate the talent of local artists.


When it comes to music, Salt Lake City offers a wide variety of genres and venues. The Utah Symphony, known for its world-class performances, calls Salt Lake City home. Attend one of their concerts at the stunning Abravanel Hall and enjoy the beautiful sound of a full orchestra.


If you’re into alternative music and up-and-coming bands, The Urban Lounge and Kilby Court are popular venues to catch live performances. These intimate spaces allow you to get up close and personal with the musicians and experience the energy of live music in a more intimate setting.


In addition to traditional venues, Salt Lake City hosts a number of music festivals throughout the year. The Twilight Concert Series, held during the summer months, features a lineup of local and national artists performing at the picturesque Gallivan Center. The Excellence in the Community Concert Series offers free concerts showcasing local jazz, blues, and world music talents.


Salt Lake City also embraces other art forms, such as theater and dance. The Eccles Theater, a state-of-the-art performing arts center, hosts Broadway shows, theater productions, and dance performances. The Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center is another venue that showcases a diverse range of performing arts, from contemporary dance to experimental theater.


In Salt Lake City, art and music are not limited to traditional spaces. The city encourages public art through initiatives like the Flying Objects Program, which brings temporary art installations to various public spaces. The Living Traditions Festival, held annually in May, celebrates the cultural diversity of the city through music, dance, and art.


Whether you’re a fan of art, music, or both, Salt Lake City offers an array of venues and events that cater to every artistic interest. Immerse yourself in the creative energy of the city and explore its vibrant art and music scene.


Sports and Entertainment

Salt Lake City is a city that loves its sports and has a thriving entertainment scene. Whether you’re a fan of professional sports, outdoor recreation, or live performances, there are plenty of options to keep you entertained in this vibrant city.


One of the most beloved sports teams in Salt Lake City is the Utah Jazz, the city’s professional basketball team. Catching a game at the Vivint Smart Home Arena is an electrifying experience, as fans passionately support their team. The arena also hosts other sporting events and concerts throughout the year, providing a diverse range of entertainment options.


In addition to basketball, Salt Lake City is known for its outdoor recreational activities and sporting events. With access to beautiful mountain ranges and the nearby Great Salt Lake, the city offers opportunities for hiking, biking, rock climbing, fishing, and even water sports. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or prefer a more leisurely outdoor experience, Salt Lake City has something for everyone.


When it comes to entertainment, Salt Lake City is home to a variety of theaters and performance venues. The Eccles Theater, a state-of-the-art venue, hosts Broadway shows, concerts, and other live performances. The Capitol Theatre, with its grand architecture and stunning interior, is another popular venue for ballets, operas, and other theatrical performances.


For comedy enthusiasts, Salt Lake City has a vibrant comedy scene. Wiseguys Comedy Club brings in top-notch comedians from around the country, providing ample opportunities for laughter and entertainment. There are also local improv groups and comedy showcases that offer a lighthearted and hilarious night out.


Another unique entertainment option in Salt Lake City is the Clark Planetarium. With its state-of-the-art IMAX theater and captivating exhibits, this interactive science center brings the wonders of space and the universe to life. Sit back and enjoy a breathtaking journey through the cosmos or explore hands-on exhibits that ignite curiosity and inspire learning.


Salt Lake City also hosts a variety of annual events and festivals that showcase the city’s vibrant culture and entertainment. The Sundance Film Festival, one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, takes place in nearby Park City and attracts filmmakers, actors, and film enthusiasts from around the globe. The Utah Arts Festival, held in downtown Salt Lake City, celebrates art, music, and culture with a diverse lineup of performances, exhibits, and activities.


With its professional sports teams, outdoor recreational activities, diverse performance venues, and exciting events, Salt Lake City offers a wide range of sports and entertainment options. Whether you’re a sports fan, outdoor enthusiast, or culture lover, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to stay entertained and have an unforgettable time in this vibrant city.


Historical Sites

Salt Lake City is steeped in rich history, with numerous historical sites that provide a glimpse into the city’s past. From religious landmarks to pioneer settlements, these sites offer a fascinating journey through time and a deeper understanding of the region’s heritage.


One of the most iconic historical landmarks in Salt Lake City is Temple Square. Located in the heart of downtown, Temple Square is the global headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The square encompasses a beautiful landscape filled with manicured gardens and historic buildings, including the majestic Salt Lake Temple. Visitors can take guided tours of the square, explore the visitor centers, and learn about the history and teachings of the Mormon pioneers.


The Utah State Capitol, perched atop a hill overlooking the city, is both a political hub and a historical gem. The building’s neoclassical architecture and stunning interiors showcase the state’s rich heritage. Guided tours provide insights into the state’s government and offer a chance to admire the art and history exhibits on display.


For a glimpse into pioneer life, make your way to the Wheeler Historic Farm. This living history farm, located in Murray, gives visitors a hands-on experience of early Utah pioneer life. Explore the farm’s heritage buildings, interact with farm animals, and learn about the daily chores and activities that shaped the lives of early settlers.


The Pony Express National Historic Trail also winds its way through Salt Lake City. This historic trail was critical in the westward expansion of the United States, serving as a mail delivery route in the mid-1800s. Visitors can explore portions of the trail, learn about the daring riders who braved the frontier, and experience the spirit of the Old West.


Another notable historic site is the Utah Olympic Park, built for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Today, the park serves as a year-round training center for athletes and offers a range of activities for visitors. Take a guided tour, see memorabilia from the Olympics, and even experience adrenaline-pumping adventures like bobsledding or ziplining.


For military history enthusiasts, the Fort Douglas Military Museum is a must-visit. Housed in historic buildings on the University of Utah campus, the museum showcases artifacts and exhibits highlighting the military history of the region. Learn about the involvement of Fort Douglas in several important historical events, including both World Wars and the Civil Rights Movement.


These historical sites in Salt Lake City provide a window into the city’s past and the people who shaped its development. Explore the religious and pioneer heritage, discover the icons of the Olympic games, and learn about the significant events that have shaped Salt Lake City into the thriving cultural hub it is today.


Local Events and Festivals

Salt Lake City is known for its vibrant and lively local events and festivals that celebrate the city’s culture, diversity, and community spirit. From music festivals and art events to cultural celebrations and outdoor gatherings, there is always something exciting happening in Salt Lake City.


One of the most anticipated events in Salt Lake City is the Utah Arts Festival. Held annually in downtown Salt Lake City, this multi-day event showcases the work of local and national artists across various disciplines, including visual arts, music, dance, and theater. Attendees can immerse themselves in the vibrant arts scene, explore the diverse artist booths, enjoy live performances, and indulge in delicious food from local vendors.


The Sundance Film Festival, held just outside of Salt Lake City in Park City, is one of the most renowned film festivals in the world. Filmmakers, actors, and film enthusiasts from around the globe flock to Utah to experience the premieres of groundbreaking independent films. The festival showcases a diverse range of films and provides a platform for emerging voices in the film industry.


The Days of ’47 Parade and Rodeo is another highly anticipated event in Salt Lake City. Held annually in July, this celebration commemorates the arrival of the Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley. The parade features colorful floats, marching bands, and performances that highlight the city’s history and heritage. The rodeo, held at the Utah State Fairgrounds, showcases exciting rodeo events and brings together cowboys and cowgirls from across the region.


Salt Lake City also embraces its LGBTQ+ community with the annual Utah Pride Festival. This vibrant event celebrates diversity, inclusivity, and equality. The festival includes a parade, live music performances, dance parties, and a wide range of activities that promote love and acceptance.


The Twilight Concert Series is a popular summer event that brings together music lovers from all walks of life. Held at the Gallivan Center, this concert series features a diverse lineup of local and national artists from various genres. Attendees can enjoy live music, delicious food from local vendors, and the vibrant atmosphere of the city’s downtown area.


For outdoor enthusiasts, the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market and Summer Market are events not to be missed. These trade shows bring together industry professionals and outdoor enthusiasts to showcase the latest gear, equipment, and innovations in the outdoor industry. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the latest trends and products while connecting with like-minded individuals.


Other notable events include the Red Butte Garden Outdoor Concert Series, which combines beautiful outdoor surroundings with live performances from renowned artists, and the Park City Kimball Arts Festival, a three-day art event that transforms Park City into a vibrant display of art, food, and entertainment.


These local events and festivals in Salt Lake City are a testament to the city’s vibrant culture and community. They bring people together, celebrate various art forms and cultural traditions, and contribute to the sense of unity and diversity that makes Salt Lake City a truly unique and exciting place to visit.



Salt Lake City truly is a destination that surprises and captivates visitors with its diverse offerings and hidden gems. From the stunning natural beauty that surrounds the city to the vibrant arts and culture scene, there is something for everyone in this captivating capital of Utah.


Outdoor enthusiasts will be thrilled with the abundance of recreational opportunities just a stone’s throw away from the city. Whether you’re hiking in the majestic national parks, skiing down powdery slopes, or exploring the shimmering waters of the Great Salt Lake, the natural wonders of Salt Lake City are a playground for adventure.


The city’s cultural attractions are equally impressive, with renowned museums, iconic landmarks, and a thriving art and music scene. Explore the fascinating history and heritage showcased at Temple Square and the Utah State Capitol, or immerse yourself in the vibrant art exhibits and live performances at the various galleries and theaters.


Salt Lake City is also a food lover’s paradise, with a diverse culinary scene that caters to all tastes and preferences. From farm-to-table restaurants to international cuisines and local food markets, the city’s dining options are sure to tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more.


When the sun sets, Salt Lake City comes alive with a dynamic nightlife. Trendy bars and speakeasies offer crafted cocktails and unique experiences, while music venues and theaters provide a platform for both local and international talent to shine. The city’s entertainment scene ensures that you’ll always have a memorable night out.


With its historical sites, local events, and festivals, Salt Lake City connects visitors with the city’s heritage and celebrates its diverse community. Explore the pioneer settlements, attend cultural celebrations, and immerse yourself in the local arts and music scene to truly embrace the spirit of Salt Lake City.


In conclusion, Salt Lake City is a destination that offers far more than meets the eye. Its beauty, culture, and vibrancy make it a must-visit for any traveler seeking outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and a taste of the unexpected. Whether you’re exploring the natural wonders, indulging in the diverse dining scene, or embracing the city’s art, music, and history, Salt Lake City is sure to leave you with lasting memories and the desire to return.